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This is the End

41
Instant McMansion -- Central Maryland (April 2016)Sony RX1R II + Zeiss 2.0/35mm

Instant McMansion — Central Maryland (April 2016)
Sony RX1R II + Zeiss 2.0/35mm

For years and years, this was a large, multi-acre horse pasture.  The seasons would roll by, the horses being boarded there would come and go, the cicadas would send everyone to sleep in the summer, and snows would soften the landscape in the winter.

Then the horses went away.  The field went fallow and the property fell into decline.  I feared for the worst.

Well… the new normal has just landed with a thud.

This was still a large undisturbed field with outbuildings sprinkled across it until early last fall, when the bulldozers arrived, flattened everything in sight, and began carving new topography out of the soil.  Mounds were built up to form foundations for structures, and studs quickly erupted like magic out of the dirt.  Frantic activity continued apace through the winter, until earlier this week they hurriedly paved the driveway and slapped down the sod; the fresh concrete behind me was still curing when I took this photo.  And this is just the first of these monstrosities being built on the former horse pasture; many more are in the works.

The same thing is happening in all the other open green spaces around where we live.

When we moved here back in 1993, I told Cindy that I fully expected the surrounding rural fields and woods to become filled with urban blight within the next 35 to 40 years.  We’re at the 23 year mark now, but I think my prediction is still on track.  Every year since then we’ve seen the steady progress of the real estate developers and their ugly work steadily encroaching toward our tiny town; at some point in the future, it will become an endless plain of Potomac McMansion wannabes, vertical townhouses, squeezed single-family homes, and ratty low-income housing.  And we’ll be using the same congested road systems we presently use, and sucking profligate amounts of water from aquifers that can’t sustain the amounts we draw even now.

Hopefully Cindy and I will be retired and gone by then, because I never want to live in that nightmare.

41 thoughts on “This is the End

    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Here in the DC region, there has been nonstop unprecedented growth since the 1970’s. All the empty space isn’t gone yet, so they haven’t begun to build vertically.

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    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      It’s just as bad as it sounds.

      There is a development to the north of us that built office space for 40,000 workers… but only enough housing for 10,000. So these huge developments are going in and they stretch for as far as the eye can see — vast tracts of forest and fields torn up and replaced with shiny new houses.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Haha — we ARE in the country!

      We live in a tiny community (less than 5,000 when we first arrived) that was surrounded at one time by a huge swath of agriculture and dense woods many miles from the nearest urban area.

      That’s what I’m trying to point out; the “country” part of our region is being decimated by development and is quickly becoming urban/suburban blight.

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  1. Tillerman (@ProperCourse)

    400 years ago there weren’t any European style dwellings in N. America. I bet the Native Americans felt just like you Mitch when they saw the Europeans coming into the neighborhood and chopping down the forests and building their log cabins or whatever. We all live in houses that are on land that was once virgin and unspoiled.

    The good news is that climate change or nuclear war will probably kill of our species before we build on every square inch of undeveloped land. After a few centuries all the houses will crumble and rot away. And then all the land will be empty again and the cockroaches will be able to enjoy the views.

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    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      No, I think the Native Americans felt far worse than me and were willing to put their lives on the line to resist the changes they could see happening (I feel bad about the changes happening around us, but not enough to justify hand-to-hand combat to stop it).

      Thankfully we don’t have conflict at that level today… at least not yet.

      Climate change or nuclear war will likely reduce us to fighting over what remains of our natural resources, like potable water, food, and/or fuel and power — either as a nation, or as disorganized groups after the government has fallen. I think the time is coming for all of that, but hopefully not until long after I’ve had my extended dirt bath.

      However, the speed at which climate change is happening is quite disconcerting; where researchers were once predicting many centuries or millenia for severe consequences to develop, now they are predicting mere decades (my own personal perception is that we passed the point of no return a decade or more ago, and all we can do now is try to minimize the impact). I can’t imagine being a parent and knowing that my children or grandchildren will have to deal with that in their lifetimes.

      As far as what will last a few centuries, I doubt it will be much beyond steel-reinforced concrete or masonry and stone structures, as everything else is pretty much unrecognizable within 50 years or less.

      Yep, pretty bleak. I hope I’m wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Francis.R.

    Developers are the new kings of the bad taste it seems. So many years of architecture and architects are asked to design without preserving the landscape or the dignity of the life…

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    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      It’s particularly bad around here because it appears that no thought is going into infrastructure — roads, water, power, waste treatment, schools, stores, etc. House are being plopped down — and at least in our area — nothing is going in to support them.

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  3. Sarah Longes - Mirador Design

    Well written! Happens so much here too 😦 The government in the UK is also planning to make it even harder for the populace to object and derail some of these planning applications. It’s always been down to local councils but the government are handing the permission granting powers to the Land Registry who they’re also selling off to a private company 😦 Democracy is dead!

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    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Isn’t that true.

      Practical commuting distance? What’s that? I have fellow coworkers that live 2.5 hours from work because they can’t find anything within their price range that’s closer.

      And if we hadn’t gotten our own home back in the early 1990’s, I’m sure we would be in the same boat, as the current median home value for where we live and work is $530,700. For what it’s worth, all the homes being built here in our town that are the same size as the house I have pictured at the top of the post are starting around $760,000 and top out at $1.04 million. Who can afford that?

      One coworker has told me that nearly 80% of his income is going to housing costs — and he has a stay-at-home wife and three kids. Have her get a job, you say? Child care here is so expensive that it’s equal to whatever she could bring in, so more and more mothers are staying at home until the kids are in high school.

      This region is awful for young families and couples just starting out.

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    2. fatfreddysproject

      Oh dear. I’ve seen American suburbia (and been stranded there without transport) so I think I understand a little. I dislike taxes here but I do appreciate widely available full time child care with monthly fees capped at $300 per kid, functioning public transport (my kid was 8 when he took subway and bus to school and back on his own) etc. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but it does mean women have the option to work. Which is good given that a middle class life style is difficult on one salary. Not to mention that I would go insane as a stay at home parent with kids in deep suburbia. I suppose females are not all that different than me in that respect. Consolation for a tiger heart: young families starting out have a rough time everywhere. Insane property prices is a global phenomenon.

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    3. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Child care in our area is $1,500 per child per month, which becomes prohibitive for families with more than one kid. Newborn care is even higher, as much as double that until the newborn reaches 6-months of age.

      I had a coworker a couple of years ago — new to our area and pregnant with her first child — who was going crazy trying to find “affordable” care for her baby while she was working during the day. It didn’t happen. She left the region and moved to a cheaper place.

      I was 6 when my parents began letting me walk to my first grade school, which was five blocks away from our apartment in southern California, and I was riding my bike as much as 32 miles away from our place in Idaho by the time I was 10-years-old (buses and subways don’t exist outside of the dense urban environments in the US).

      Sadly, “free-range parenting” like that isn’t allowed here now, due to all the fears of child abduction now: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/13/parents-investigated-letting-children-walk-alone/25700823/

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  4. David

    Your description of what is going on sounds like what’s happening in the SE part of the Denver Metro Area. It creeps even more southward into what once was rural, unincorporated areas 20-30 years. Where my niece lives, it was a very outlying area when it was built in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today, vastly different with the level of continuing development. Also, where my former SIL lives, she can see the new subdivision developments coming closer to her small 50 acre horse ranch. She thinks, in 5-10 years, a developer will come knocking on her door. They’ll find out soon enough that winter and summer thunderstorms are a little stronger where she lives.

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    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      You have Chinook winds out there, right? Don’t think I’ve ever experienced one of those…

      Agree with all you say. I’ve got family in Colorado Springs and I don’t recognize it anymore when I go out there; too much change.

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    2. David

      Yes, we have Chinooks. Generally, they happen before the next winter storm comes. “It’s the warm before the storm” as the saying goes. You would have to tie down the patio furniture and the trash bin when that comes up in the forecast.

      I live in Colorado Springs. Don’t go out for a day or two, it seems like it has changed – you see a new framed structures for another subdivision or fast food place.

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